Good and bad developments in the cable news wars
By Mary Shaw
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Sep 8, 2009, 00:12
It�s funny how the cable news networks so often become the
news topics themselves. And last week was a big week for that kind of �news
news� -- some good, some bad.
First, the good news.
According to a recent announcement from ColorofChange.org,,
11 more advertisers have pulled their ads from Glenn Beck�s program on Fox
News, bringing the total to 57! This is in response to Beck�s recent assertions
that President Obama is a racist who has a �deep-seated hatred for white
The latest companies to take their money away from Beck
include Capital One, Dannon, Discover, Infiniti, and Mercedes-Benz.
For now, the management at Fox allows Beck to continue his
show. He�s a good little soldier after all, good at propagating the most
extreme right-wing talking points. But will Fox get to a point where the bottom
line is more important? (I won�t hold my breath.)
Now, the disappointing news.
CNN�s Lou Dobbs, famous for his obsession with immigrants
and a proponent of the birther movement, might soon outdo himself. Apparently
he�s scheduled to broadcast his show later this month from a rally sponsored by
a hate group.
Media Matters for America explains, �On September 15 and 16,
Dobbs is scheduled to broadcast his radio show from Capitol Hill as a leading
voice of the annual �Hold Their Feet to the Fire� legislative advocacy
conference and rally sponsored by the rabidly anti-immigrant organization Federation
for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
�Founded by a man with a history of espousing racist beliefs
and who remains on its board, FAIR is labeled as a �hate group� by the Southern
Poverty Law Center. Dobbs� participation -- and, through him, CNN�s -- will
bestow mainstream legitimacy on the rally and on FAIR, something FAIR
recognizes and is bragging about to its members.
�CNN�s association with FAIR through Dobbs is a major stain
on an organization that calls itself �the most trusted name in news.� FAIR was
founded by John Tanton, a man who has a long history of making racist
statements. In 1986, Tanton reportedly wrote: �As Whites see their power and
control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the
night?� In 2001, Tanton even praised the work of John Trevor, a notorious Nazi
sympathizer, saying his work should form �a guidepost to what we must follow
again this time.�
�FAIR has been sharply criticized in the past for funding
racially charged ads, including several in 2004 targeting former Democratic
Rep. Martin Frost and former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel that featured
dark-skinned men loitering on street corners and running from the police. In an
editorial, the Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star called the ads �trash� that
�incite hate,� �play upon stereotypical racial fears,� and �are full of
half-truths and lies.�
�And yet, rather than denouncing the group, Dobbs is
scheduled to be a leading voice at the upcoming FAIR rally. What�s more, his
CNN show has cited FAIR as a credible source on immigration issues no fewer
than six times in the last year.�
While Dobbs� brand of hate-and-fear mongering is a little
bit more subtle than Beck�s, I agree with Media Matters that CNN should be
concerned, especially since that network promotes itself as �the most trusted
name in news.�
If CNN allows this sort of thing to continue, it could end
up becoming just a watered-down version of Fox News.
Is that what CNN�s management really wants? I hope not.
Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and
activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a
former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights
group Amnesty International, and her views appear regularly in a variety of
newspapers, magazines, and websites. Note that the ideas expressed here are the
author�s own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty
International or any other organization with which she may be associated.
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